True Love Is Practical
“Let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.”—1 John 3:18, NW.
1. Why is love a proof that God is, and so how is the Holy Bible proved to be his Book?
LOVE is, because God is. If there were no love, there would be no God. The existence of love is proof that God is. Love could come only from God. The materialistic way that modern-day scientists try to explain all creation is absolutely loveless and can never explain how that heart-warming, motivating quality came to exist. What their theories of creation result in is just a cold universe, without love, without a purpose. Hard, matter-of-fact, physical science is their god, their idol of worship, which has no appeal to the heart. No less void of love are the gods of the pagans. They are gods of passion, but their passion even for sex is not true love. One feature about these gods that makes them unloving is the fiendish, sadistic delight they are said to take in horribly torturing creatures in an afterlife for not pleasing these gods during life now in this wicked world. Which one of such gods sets forth the principle of love as the one living and true God does in his Word, the sacred Bible? Among all the religions built around such gods which one gives examples of love like that of Jehovah God through his Son Jesus Christ? Not one! No, not one of such religions and its literature has the spirit of true Godship working through it as the Holy Bible has. Therefore the Bible must be God’s Book, because it teaches and is pervaded with divine love.
2. Why did the first man and woman have love for God, but what stunted the growth of their love for God and for each other?
2 How did man come to have this quality of love? Because it was originally the Creator’s gift, God’s gift. He endowed man with it at man’s creation. Without it the original, perfect man could not have been made in God’s image and likeness. Woman was man’s first and closest neighbor, and man was made to love her. The first man showed the affection he had for his wife, illustrating the affection all future husbands should have for their wives, when he said concerning the beautiful woman God gave him: “‘This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken.’ That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:23, 24, NW) Adam and Eve originally had love for God; it was implanted in them. But they stunted the growth of their love for him and for each other by letting selfish desire for something God forbade take possession of them. Contrary to his will and command they ate fruit off the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and bad. (Gen. 2:16 to 3:7) This led to the death of their love for God. Eventually when they paid the penalty of their sin and returned to the dust they could not exercise any trace of such a quality there. (Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10) Furthermore, their sin against their Creator and heavenly Father produced a hater, a murderer, in their first son, Cain.—Gen. 4:1-12.
3. How does the Bible tell of love from its first book to its last book to be written?
3 Love of God in the earth did not perish with Adam and Eve. It manifested itself again with their second son Abel, the acceptance of whose sacrifice by Jehovah God incited his brother Cain to murder him. (1 John 3:12, 13) About two thousand years later love more for God than for an only son moved faithful Abraham to offer his beloved Isaac for sacrifice to Jehovah God. The record of this is in the very first book of the Bible, in the twenty-second chapter. The last books to be written as part of the Bible were the apostle John’s account of Christ’s life and also John’s first, second and third letters to Christians, and these four books of the Bible specially talk of this divine quality and how it should be expressed. So the Bible, from its first book through its last book to be written, tells us of love in its purest form.
4. How is the noblest expression of love described briefly, and why was this expression of it not a barbarism?
4 The noblest expression of this quality is described at John 3:16, 17 (NW) by Jesus in these words: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. For God sent forth his Son into the world, not for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him.” To deny the gift and sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son is to deny God, to deny the fullness of his love, to deny his capability of going to such depth of love. The gift of his Son for sacrifice was not a barbarism but was an expression than which there could be no greater unselfish affection. Parents that give up their sons to carnal war and the dangers of being killed in it do not think themselves barbaric for having parted with their sons if killed in battle. Smothering their grief they say with patriotic pride that their sons paid the supreme sacrifice for their country. What, then, of God? He saw the need of a human sacrifice for the sake of men who would like to live forever in a new world, but God did not force his Son into such a sacrifice. God’s Son willingly laid down his life, and that without shooting anybody, without threatening anybody’s life or without harming anybody, but only meaning to do mankind good. His enemies, not his Father, were the barbaric ones. In spite of his innocence they maliciously had him killed.
5. How was this expression of love most practical, and what does denying God’s sacrifice of his Son as if it were a barbarism mean?
5 Did God turn against all mankind because representative members of it did this barbaric deed? No. He accepted the willing sacrifice of his Son’s life, for it to be used in behalf of those who would appreciate its value and what it meant on the part of God and his Son. Thus his supreme love in giving his Son was not in vain. It was most practical. The faithful sacrifice of human life also brought the Son the reward of immortal privileges and honors in heaven, and his sacrifice was used in laying the foundation for a clean, upright new world. Denying God’s sacrifice of his Son as if it were a barbarism means not knowing God, really not loving him, for God is love. That means he is permeated through and through with it and expresses it perfectly. “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was made manifest in our case, because God sent forth his only-begotten Son into the world that we might gain life through him. The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.”—1 John 4:8-10, NW.
6. Why is it reasonable for God to command us to love him and one another, and whom must we include in our love?
6 Since God went to such lengths to express this quality toward us, it is only reasonable that he commands us to express it to him and to one another. In all the religions of this world, what one is there whose god commands us to love in imitation of him? In the third book of the Bible, at Leviticus 19:18 (NW), we read: “You must not take vengeance nor have a grudge against the sons of your people; and you must love your fellow as yourself. I am Jehovah.” Not just brothers but strangers also must receive this consideration, for God’s command to his people was: “Executing judgment for the fatherless boy and the widow and loving the temporary resident so as to give him bread and clothing. You, too, must love the temporary resident, for you became temporary residents in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10:18, 19, NW) God wants even enemies to be shown that rendering evil for evil is not the best method, for he commands: “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou wilt heap coals of fire upon his head, and Jehovah will reward thee.” (Prov. 25:21, 22, AS) Even if the enemy thus treated did not feel hot remorse in his heart and become your friend, yet Jehovah would reward you for obeying his command.
7. Why do we sorely need such instructions from God?
7 Such divine instructions we sorely need, for they are not part of the religions of this world, and through heredity we tend to be selfish, greedy, inconsiderate, envious, jealous, hateful, unforgiving, vengeful, and the great Hater tries to make us more so. “God is love.” Satan the Devil is hate. He tries to make us in his image as his children, just as he made Cain. “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not practice righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother. And for the sake of what did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.”—1 John 3:10-12, NW.
8. What law does favoritism in a congregation break, and why?
8 Cain, though Abel’s own brother and hence a close neighbor of his, came to hate him. In this world it is not unusual for a person not to have the best of feeling toward his neighbor, even one in the same family or congregation. Favoritism for some neighbors and arrogant contempt for others can exist or crop up through selfishness. This is contrary to one of the two greatest laws. Recommending to lax Christians to quit violating it through favoritism, the disciple James wrote: “If, now, you practice carrying out the kingly law according to the Scriptures, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing quite well.” (Jas. 2:1-8, NW) This means loving poor neighbors as well as rich ones, without any favoritism by you in the hope of selfish gain or in the thought that rich ones deserve better treatment. We do not love ourselves less than the rich because we may be poor. The law to love neighbor as oneself is “kingly.” What, then, is the greatest law, the law to love God with all we are and have? Upon these all-embracing commands the whole Bible hangs. (Matt. 22:35-40; Rom. 13:8; Gal. 5:14) The rest of the Bible shows how we must put love of God and love of neighbor into action. “Let all your affairs take place with love.” (1 Cor. 16:14, NW) Showing partiality that discriminates unneighborly against the poor is not obedience to the kingly law. It does not lead to the best results, hence is not practical.
9. Why can we not, while thus breaking the law of neighbor love, be loving God in a practical way?
9 God wants our love of him to be, not something sentimental and formal, but something practical that expresses itself toward his people, his children, our Christian brothers. “If anyone makes the statement, ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also.” (1 John 4:20, 21, NW) Partiality against the poor brothers is not in harmony with this commandment. So we cannot carry out the greatest of the commandments, to love God with all we are and have, and at the same time be violating the second-greatest commandment, the kingly one of neighbor love.
“NEITHER IN WORD NOR WITH THE TONGUE”
10. Why do we have to be on guard against those who hypocritically express love in word and with the tongue?
10 Are we not to love in word and with the tongue? No; that is to say, not in a hypocritical way, in a way that belies what we say. There is so much hypocritical love expressed in word and with the tongue. Those who are moved to make such expressions usually have a secret selfish purpose and seek some advantage, even if it means breaking up the unity of a congregation. The apostle Paul warns: “By smooth talk and complimentary speech they seduce the hearts of guileless ones.” (Rom. 16:18, NW) That is the way those who have left the theocratic organization usually approach those who are holding fast to it. Treacherous are their words! In Ahithophel, who forsook Jehovah’s anointed king to seek selfish advantage with the rebel Absalom, King David had an experience with such words. Respecting this unfaithful counselor David wrote: “But it was thou, a man mine equal, my companion, and my familiar friend. We took sweet counsel together; we walked in the house of God with the throng. His mouth was smooth as butter, but his heart was war: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.” (Ps. 55:13, 14, 21, AS) Unless we see behind a person’s mask, his pretending to love us by his words disarms us of our fear of him and we are apt to be thrown off guard by the hypocritical, suave speech. For our spiritual safety we need to become trained to see through hypocrisy and guard ourselves against being misled. (Mark 12:15-17; Luke 20:20-25) And even as we do not want to be misled ourselves we do not want to mislead others with hypocritical expressions in word or with the tongue.
11. How may we, like Paul, recommend ourselves to others, and why does not love it hypocritical make us something?
11 The love we must cultivate must be “love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.” (1 Tim. 1:5, NW) The command is: “Let your love be without hypocrisy.” We should not corrupt the purity of our brotherly affection: “Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth with unhypocritical brotherly love as the result, love one another intensely from the heart.” (Rom. 12:9; 1 Pet. 1:22, NW) By purity and sincerity in this regard we can recommend ourselves to others, so that they have no fear of evil motives on our part. Paul did that. He wrote: “But in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, . . . by kindness, by holy spirit, by love free from hypocrisy, by truthful speech.” (2 Cor. 6:4, 6, 7, NW) Hypocritical love makes its possessor, not something, but nothing. It is not the greatest quality when ranked with faith and hope. It is the worst thing, because it is a counterfeit of the greatest thing. Quite fittingly the hypocrites come into the judgment of Gehenna. The “evil slave” class who abuse their brothers are cast out by the Lord, to have their part with the hypocrites.—Matt. 24:48-51; 23:3, 29, 33, NW; 1 Cor. 13:2, 13.
12, 13. While avoiding hypocrisy, yet what should we try not to do in word and with the tongue, and so how could speech be practical?
12 But while avoiding hypocrisy in word and with the tongue we should try to avoid needlessly hurting and offending others in word and with the tongue by our very frankness. For example, a congregation invites an outside speaker to give a public talk. When he arrives to keep his appointment, the congregation servant or chairman learns he has his talk written out and will read it. In the face of this the servant or chairman could say: “A written talk! Why, the public here do not want to hear a talk read. They want to hear a talk given extemporaneously.” Or, he could say: “I am confident you spent much time in composing that talk and that it will be a good one. We look to you to give it your best reading and to make the manuscript just live to us by the fine expression you put into it.”
13 Under the circumstances the first comment would tend to discourage the public reader before ever he started reading it, taking out the fire and enthusiasm that he had been feeling at the very thought of reading his carefully prepared paper. It would thus result in his reading it in a timid, apologetic, inferior, uninspired way. The second comment would show that the preparation the brother had made in composing the paper and fitting himself to deliver it was appreciated and this would encourage him to his very best presentation so that the audience would hardly think it was a reading and would get the fullest benefit out of it and enjoy it hugely. After the reading was all over, the servant or chairman could express his own genuine appreciation and offer the suggestion: “Brother, we should also like to hear you give a public talk extemporaneously some time. It takes a bit more courage to do it, but by getting filled to overflowing with your material and getting very familiar with it we know you can do it. We shall be glad to have you try it on us.” The second type of comment is therefore the practical, considerate one.
14. Before others, how could injudicious words and how could encouraging words be said regarding a poor showing of volunteers for service?
14 In another case, one of the servants of a congregation might talk at a service meeting, Thursday or Friday night of the week. He gets onto field service arrangements for the coming week. He proposes a certain type of field service for a certain open evening. “Now, how many in the congregation will take part in this activity that night? Kindly raise the hand.” Up go four hands among an audience of over fifty. Thinking to shame the majority of them into a larger participation in the activity, the servant might say: “So only four are supporting the organization, are they?” Such a comment would be injudicious. It would be certain to stir up resentment because of its inconsiderateness. Support of the organization in its activity is not gauged by special activity suddenly brought before the congregation that night. What will the others besides the four handraisers be doing the rest of the week in the way of regular field activities? That must be kept in mind. So the wiser comment would be: “Well, now, we are glad that four can volunteer right off. If there are any others who find later on that they can arrange to join the four in this activity this particular night, I shall be very glad to hear from them. And let the rest of us keep on faithfully at our regular activities this coming week.” This comment would avoid our stumbling in word and would cut and hurt no listeners but would encourage all.
15, 16. How should those older in the truth or in age be commented upon, and how did Paul handle Peter for inconsistent conduct?
15 There are proper ways of shaming people with a view to their taking the right course. (2 Thess. 3:14, 15; Titus 2:8; 1 Pet. 3:16) But never be caustic. Consider, too, the years of the individual in the truth or in physical age. “Do not severely criticize an older man. To the contrary, entreat him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters with all chasteness.” (1 Tim. 5:1, 2, NW) You may think an individual who is older in years or in the truth is slackening or not up to standard. Do not twit him by comparing him to his face with an odious thing or an odious religious class, thinking you are correcting him or reminding him of his shortcomings. By such remarks you may do injustice and are likely to cause deep hurt and painful offendedness. Youthful bustle does not always mean that much is being accomplished, nor does an aged, slowed-up pace mean that little is being accomplished where there is a patient, steadfast plodding along with regularity. So do not be severe in criticism or comparison. If comment you feel you must make, try tact. Note how tactfully Paul handled Peter (older in the truth) for his conduct that did not harmonize with his enlightened faith but bordered upon hypocrisy through fear of the circumcised Jews.
16 Paul, telling how he used tact, says: “The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barnabas was led along with them in their pretense. But when I saw they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news, I said to Cephas before them all: ‘If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do, and not as Jews do, how is it that you are compelling people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?” (Gal. 2:11-14, NW) Peter got the point but was not hurt.
17. How may we avoid troubles for our soul by our course in word and with the tongue?
17 The proverb sagely says: “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” (Prov. 21:23, AS) That includes keeping the mouth and tongue from gossiping about others, especially backbiting and making adverse criticism about private, personal affairs of others, oftentimes judging others by one’s own standards of measurement and not by the best interpretation of God’s Word. Some, because the battle of Armageddon is so near, might lift their eyebrows and hands in a surge of horror at other brothers and sisters’ getting married these days or at some married sister’s getting pregnant. But is such openly displayed, openly voiced horror based upon the right view and understanding of the Scriptures concerning these last days with Armageddon impending? No. Generally the gossiper, the backbiter, the hasty critic has what he said swing around back at him, and then there is trouble for him, trouble explaining, trouble apologizing, trouble in grief at seeing the harm he has done to those who have become offended at God’s truth and the organization. There is a practical way of avoiding such troubles: keep your mouth and tongue and pen.
18. When may failure to use the tongue show a lack of love?
18 Certainly, then, we are to love in word and with the tongue. Now in this time of judgment of the nations is the season of all seasons when we should use word and tongue in a right way and when withholding proper words would be disobedience. Is not now the time when God commands us to preach the good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations? Jesus Christ says Yes. (Matt. 24:14, NW) Is not this the season to give faithful counsel to those in peril of being destroyed in this judgment day and at Armageddon? Yes. How much good we should fail to do by keeping back a word in season and fitly spoken when our tongues have the power and opportunity to utter it! “A word in due season, how good is it!” “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in network of silver.” (Prov. 15:23; 25:11, AS) If we must give a reproof in season, then to be fitly spoken it must be given in love. A failure to reprove in season may show a lack of love in using word and tongue. (Prov. 6:23) “He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” “For whom Jehovah loves he disciplines.”—Prov. 13:24, AS; Heb. 12:6, NW; Prov. 3:12; 27:5.
19. Must we, then, love in word and with the tongue? If so, how?
19 Members of a congregation must speak God’s Word to one another to build them up spiritually, to comfort them and to urge them onward in the right course. Instructing us on how to use word and tongue aright is the advice: “You, beloved ones, by building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying with holy spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love.” Also, “Comfort one another with these words.” (Jude 20, 21, NW; 1 Thess. 4:18) Speakers appointed to do so should preach the Word to the congregations, and all the members of the congregations must preach the Word to all the inhabitants of the land. Not only should love be shown by speaking at all but love should be shown by the care we use as to our words and forms of expression and illustrations: “Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.” (Col. 4:6, NW) The tongue must be used, not as a fire set aflame by Gehenna to cause our hearers everlasting destruction in that symbolic lake of fire and sulphur, but as the “tongue of the wise,” which imparts health mentally and spiritually to the hearers. (Prov. 12:18; Jas. 3:5-8, NW) Let our tongues be the medium of the words of life; let the printed page, the printed sermons, we hand out be words of life, expressed in Bible language and tending to salvation. There is no arguing about it: we must love in word and with the tongue, and we must do that toward God as well as our neighbor.
“IN DEED AND TRUTH”
20. What, then, does the apostle mean at 1 John 3:18?
20 What the apostle John means when saying, “Let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth,” is that we must not love in word and with the tongue only, especially when it is the time for deeds, for action, to put into effect what we say in word and with the tongue. (1 John 3:18, NW) That is the conclusion we draw from the verse (17) immediately preceding the above and which reads: “Whoever has this world’s means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him?” (1 John 3:17, NW) What he may say in word or with the tongue will not hide the fact that he has fallen short in love of God as well as love of one of his nearest neighbors, his Christian brother.
21. How does love thus correspond with faith?
21 This reminds us of James’ illustration of what a living faith is: “Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,’ but you do not give them the necessities for their body, of what benefit is it? Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.” (Jas. 2:14-17, NW) That illustration applies just as well to love. Live love must have works. To be the true thing it must be evidenced, not by just words of the tongue when such are cheap and cost us no more than a wag in the mouth, but by works, by unselfish deeds, by giving at cost to ourselves and without calculating on some return.
22. What will love prompt us to do toward those serving us, and in what will love try to take the lead?
22 It is simple to quote scriptures about love and discourse about it before an audience, but practicing it when it costs something to the flesh and its possessions is another thing. It is a surer test of the trueness of the love voiced. Sometimes it may call for us to give forth a little strength to do something for others rather than to be waited on all the time. It will not allow us to be supercilious, putting on airs and, because of our position or education or material goods, expecting to be waited on without at least offering some return help. When it comes to doing something for others, we should try to be first in rendering service. “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Rom. 12:10, NW) Jesus did that. It was no idle word when he said: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:26-28, NW) Trying to take the lead in doing honor to one another as servants of God will keep us from becoming a dead burden, so that people tire of having us around as guests over a period of time. We should try to relieve people of their burdens so as to free them and allow them more time for spiritual matters that they as well as we need.
23, 24. How may we express love for the whole association of brothers, and why may seeking aloneness lead to disaster?
23 Sometimes brothers may be a burden to you, not in a financial way or a physical way, but by their conduct, their weaknesses and Christian immaturity. But love should be equal to this. “Have love for the whole association of brothers.” (1 Pet. 2:17, NW) That means not just praying for all the brothers throughout the earth and trying to aid them in some trouble sector. It means putting up with the brothers in our very own congregation in spite of their slips and failings, and not getting tired of it and losing patience. Our close, regular association should not breed contempt because we get to know our associates like a book that has been read and reread. In an Antarctic exploration of 1939 the commander of the expedition expressed the desire to be stationed alone in an advanced outpost for making scientific observations during the long winter night. Why? Well, said he, two men might be the best of friends, yet put them together in close quarters, force them to sit opposite each other and look each other in the face a long time and finally they will tire of each other, get disgusted, feel burdened with each other and at last be unable to bear the sight and presence of each other. So let me occupy the observation post alone!
24 This almost proved his undoing. He was almost overcome with the fumes of his lamp, and, on the failure of radio messages from him, a rescue party was sent out from the base of operations, and it located his snow-covered hut, dug through the snow and brought him out alive, in the nick of time. No less so it is dangerous for Christians to go into isolation voluntarily and into aloneness, tiring, becoming bored at the association of brothers and preferring aloneness or the society of animals or, worse still, the society of this world. Such aloneness may indeed lead to madness, a madness in a spiritual way, for it cuts us off from the theocratic organization through which Jehovah’s food, direction and protection come, and so it leads us to destruction.
25. Why should not our close association breed contempt, and why if love is there will we be unable to keep apart?
25 In the world it may be true that close association and familiarity breed contempt. But the world does not have Jehovah’s spirit. We of his New World society do. Its fruitage is love in a true way. If we really love the whole association of brothers we shall find ourselves unable to isolate ourselves from them. Love always seeks the object of its affection; it cannot stay alone. If a young man has a consuming fondness for a young maid, then you just try to keep him away from her. Some way or other he will get to her and pour out his affection upon her. That, says the wise man, was one of four things too wonderful for him to understand: “the way of a man with a maiden.” (Prov. 30:19, AS) So must we be toward our brothers. Of our own choice we cannot keep away from them, and not just because God commands that we do not forsake meeting with them. We must mix with them, and must do so with positive ideas, to do good to others, to be profitable, and not just to be benefited personally, being only on the receiving end. Missionaries that live in the same missionary home or those who work in the same group should grow in appreciation of one another, put up with one another at times when it is a bit trialsome, and be a strength to one another, since two in co-operation are better than one. (Eccl. 4:9-12) Missionaries need one another in the field activity. They should try to safeguard one another from local dangers. All this, which may be at some cost to their own personal feelings, they ought to do in the interest of the work, to build up a local congregation of native witnesses of Jehovah.
26, 27. How may attendance at a meeting be mere formal love of God, and how should we take advantage of meeting and being together?
26 We cannot afford to ignore our brothers in the New World society. There is no reason or excuse for the conduct described in the following quotation from a letter to the Society: “Much more I could say, but must get down to the reason for writing. Please answer in The Watchtower. Can it be possible that one being a consecrated witness of Jehovah can sit with other witnesses for years in the same Kingdom Hall, in the same pew side by side, walking past each other, not for months, but for years, and not once speak to your sister or brother? Not even say ‘Hi!’ or ‘Hello!’? And when an effort is made at speaking, the individual would turn away without response. Does this prove neighbor love? Jesus admonished, ‘Love one another,’ etc. Regardless of race or color the great multitude is not divided.”
27 The one the letter describes may think that by attending the meeting at the Kingdom Hall he shows love of God; but he fails to consider that such love of God is incomplete, is merely formal, for there is a failure to love him by keeping his commandment to love our neighbor as oneself. We should support meetings, not just by attendance, but by taking part in them where there is such an opportunity. After the meeting, mingle with those in the hall, giving attention to those who appear to be overlooked. Thus you will get extra happiness out of attending the meeting, through giving to others while there. Try not to be latecomers, especially to public talks. If strangers are there on time it makes a bad impression if they see many empty seats and see that members of the congregation are late at attending. Empty seats may also be a loud testimony to them that the congregation members do not attend their own meetings. If obliged to go out alone in the field service, do so. But, if possible, join in group service. Build up others who then become your companions, that they may develop greater fitness for preaching from door to door and from store to store. Let the weak absorb strength and warmth of zeal from you the stronger ones. Give and get more happiness.—1 Ki. 1:1-4.
IN MIND, TOO
28. Against what do we need to watch the state of our mind, and what is an antidote for that?
28 The mind is a dynamic factor toward our expressing or holding back love toward others. We need to watch the state of our mind, so as to see that it is not negative, self-centered, introverted, wholly absorbed in oneself or thinking we are a nuisance to others, and so inclining us to want to be alone with our thoughts. The apostle’s antidote for such a mental disorder is this: “Keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others. Keep this mental attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:4, 5, NW) Following this antidote we shall be moved to act unselfishly toward others in the New World society. This should not be too hard. If Christ’s sermon on the mount commanded us to love even our enemies and do good to them, how much rather should we love our lovers, our brothers in the family of God? Be a loving extrovert.
29 Describing how this divine quality works, 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NW) says: “It does not keep account of the injury.” In other words, do not hold a grudge against a spiritual brother. If anyone stubbornly does so, he may turn out to be as irreconcilable as the offended brother described in Proverbs 18:19: “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and such contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (AS; Nácar-Colunga) “A brother estranged is worse than a strong city, and contentions are as the bar of a citadel.” (Ro) “A brother transgressed against is as a strong city, and contentions as the bar of a palace.” (Yg) Yes, contrary to what might be expected, a brother will refuse to show family affection and forgive his own flesh-and-blood brother, evidently taking the attitude that his brother should not have offended or transgressed against one so close to him as his own brother.
30. What examples of this do we find in Cain and Esau?
30 Cain never forgave his brother Abel for innocently putting him in the shade when it came to winning God’s favor; he doubtless felt an indignity had been done to his position as first-born and his pride was hurt. Esau meditated murder against his brother Jacob for taking steps to have the birthright that he had legally purchased conveyed to him by their father Isaac, according to God’s decree. Jacob left home to let his brother’s rage cool off. On returning even after twenty years of absence Jacob was not sure of Esau’s forgiveness, but sent gift after gift ahead of him to Esau in the hope that these gifts as well as long absence with forgetfulness would soften his brother and win him to his right senses. It turned out that way, fortunately, but a long time, twenty years, was involved. How about laying siege to a strong city that long to win or capture it?—Gen. 25:20-34; 27:1-45; 31:36-41; 32:3 to 33:11.
31. (a) What examples of this do we find in Joab and Absalom? (b) How may one thus miss an opportunity to imitate God, and whom does one thus hurt?
31 General Joab nursed a grudge against his Israelite brother, General Abner, for having killed his brother Asahel in time of civil war, and finally killed Abner by a trick. (2 Sam. 2:18-23; 3:26-39) King David’s son Absalom never forgave his half-brother Amnon for violating his sister Tamar, but after two years of biding his time he schemed out an opportunity and had Amnon killed. (2 Sam. 13:1-29) So brothers in the New World society must guard against harboring resentment, sulking, getting moody, going over real or fancied injuries again and again in the mind and just growing colder and more bitter against a brother considered as an offender. The brother charged with the offense or guilty of it may follow the course Jesus outlined at Matthew 18:15-17. Still the brother stays stubborn and refuses to allow for reconciliation; he does not want to let the offender off too easy, even if he is his spiritual brother. He prefers to make the contentions unbreakable like the gate-bar of a castle. He thus misses the opportunity to imitate God: “But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you. Therefore, become imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Eph. 4:32; 5:1, NW) The one he injures is mainly himself.
32. What is the better course toward a brother held as an offender, and whom does one thus primarily benefit? Why?
32 By such an unforgiving, irreconcilable spirit he tends to make his brother weak, to impede him spiritually. Better is it to forgive and dispose of the contentions and quarreling and help the brother to be like a strong city, the way some modern translations prefer to render Proverbs 18:19: “A brother helped is like a strong city, but quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” (RS) “A brother helped by a brother is like a fortified city; he holds firm as the bar of a castle.” (AT; Bover-Cantera) Our responsibility and privilege is to edify our brother by extending forgiveness, if necessary, and thus help to make him strong and untakable by the enemy, able to hold out like the bar of a castle against all assaults of this world. That way a Christian benefits himself as well as his spiritual brother. “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul; but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” (Prov. 11:17, AS) Remember that Jesus said: “Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 5:7; 6:14, 15, NW) Is not God’s forgiveness worth gaining? It means our everlasting life in the new world.
33. How also can we spare ourselves inward pain and trial and not let our good relations with another brother be spoiled?
33 We spare ourselves much inward pain and trial by not being touchy, sensitive, easily offended. Do not imagine yourself the one hinted at in remarks by others and to be undeservedly criticized, and so take offense and feel injured. If in doubt as to who is meant, inquire of the speaker. Do not jump to conclusions and hold something against the speaker and chill against him. If his remarks fit you, they may have fitted some others too, and the speaker may have had someone else in mind as an illustration. So meekly take the benefit of his remarks along with others. How would you feel if the speaker came to you direct and said: “You are the man”? That would be something with unmistakable meaning for you to take, but, while hurting you, it would be something for you either to acknowledge as true or to defend yourself against as false. A royal dignitary higher than you took it—King David. Without feeling any offense and punishing his bold accuser, the prophet Nathan, he admitted he was the one that matched Nathan’s illustration and he repented. Doing this did him good and led to his reconciliation with Jehovah God. (2 Sam. 11:1 to 12:15; Prov. 28:13) So humble yourself to accept deserved rebuke and correction and be thankful for it. But do not impute evil to another and let your imagination run wild and induce you to feel offended and grow morbid. It will unbalance you, wreck your peace and happiness, and spoil your easy, good relations with a brother not aware he hurt you.
A PERFECT BOND OF AMIABLE UNION
34. How did God’s love act positively toward estranged mankind, and so what are we under obligation to do in imitation?
34 God’s love holds the entire universe of holy creatures in union with him. His most loving gift of his only-begotten Son is an amiable step toward finally bringing the many estranged ones on earth into unbreakable union with him. His love induced him to be positive and take the first step toward uniting us to him, and that at great cost to him. Let us follow suit and be positive, taking the first action of kindness and forgiving from the heart. That is love in practice. In our witness work in the field we show kindness to our foes, our opposers, and pray in their behalf, going over our territory again and again although we may have been abused in it by the ignorant and misled ones. How inconsistent, then, to steel ourselves against our own brothers in the congregation by the hardening thought that we can excuse the world for its ignorance but our brothers should have known better and should be dealt with with proportionate severity to make them realize it and feel it till it hurts! In the light of God’s example our obligation is to love our brothers and show them thus a better and superior way. Think good of the brothers. Plan only good for others and put the plan into action. Cultivate this greatest fruit of the spirit, love.
35. Why must we let the bond of love grow strong in the New World society, and why must we change our disposition before Armageddon?
35 Let the perfect bond of union grow strong within the New World society. “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Col. 3:12-14, NW) If it is a bond of union it must draw and hold us together, not separate us, not scatter us. Now in the antitypical ark of the new system of things that will ride out the Armageddon seas into the new world we must draw together, not avoid one another. Difficulties should not be of long continuance between brothers but should be ironed out at the earliest in the interest of everyone’s being of the same mind in the Lord. (Phil. 2:1-4; 4:2) God’s creation hangs together through power from him, like the “attractions of Kesil.” (Job 38:31, Yg) The new world of righteousness will also hang together. It is just ahead, so that a great crowd of this present generation may survive in the “ark” to enter into it from its start. What, then? Why, we must live together now, before the new world. Armageddon will not miraculously change our disposition toward our brothers, suddenly making us amiable. We must change it now. True, Armageddon can blot out dispositions, but the dispositions it blots out will be of those it destroys. One thing is certain: True love will survive Armageddon and so will those who practice it.
36. By what quality is the world made to know we are Christ’s followers, and how does Psalm 133 describe the unity it produces?
36 Let us be friends. He that has friends must do something: he must be friendly. (Prov. 18:24) “A friend loveth at all times; and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov. 17:17, AS) By such permanent friendship it becomes manifest to this world that we are Christ’s disciples, true Christians. (John 13:34, 35) Love makes such permanent friendship possible. “Love covereth all sins.” (Prov. 10:12) Love is an indissoluble tie, if it is the real article. The unity in which it holds brothers together tightly is charmingly pictured at Psalm 133:1-3: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD [Jehovah] has commanded the blessing, life for evermore.”—RS.
37. How is such unity like the oil upon Aaron’s head?
37 The oil with which Moses’ brother Aaron was anointed and consecrated as Israel’s high priest was not only smooth but very fragrant, releasing a pleasant perfume upon all round about and making it agreeable to be in the high priest’s neighborhood. It was a fragrance that no other ointment had, for God did not let anyone else make an anointing oil of its composition. In the same way the fragrance of the New World society’s unity makes us pleasantly conscious of an atmosphere of love such as no organization of this world exhales. We enjoy being in that atmosphere; it is good for us. It comes from God through his great High Priest Jesus Christ. It is the breath of His spirit.—Ex. 30:22-33; Acts 10:38.
38. With what else does Psalm 133 compare brotherly unity, and why was that an important factor in the region around Zion’s mountains?
38 Dwelling as brothers in unity in the New World society also refreshes us, revives us, like the dew of Mount Hermon of the lofty Lebanon range. Hermon’s perpetually snow-streaked top caused the night vapors to condense upon Zion’s mountains far to the south, where Jehovah had placed his name. The dew thus falling was a saving factor for the vegetation of the Promised Land during the hot, rainless season from May to September. How so? Recently it has been discovered* that when plants wilted from the dry heat they recovered from wilting more rapidly when dew formed on their leaves at night than when the ground was watered, and that so much dew was taken up that the plants functioned normally during the next day without any watering of the ground. It had not been suspected how large an amount of water was absorbed from dew and later excreted through the roots into the soil and stored there without loss by evaporation. The amount of water thus put into underground storage by the plant was found to be measured in milliliters even in the case of small plants and occasionally to equal the entire weight of the plant itself. Doubtless this was the way most of the vegetation of the earth was watered from the third creative day down till the flood of Noah’s day, when God had not yet made it rain upon the earth but a vapor went up continually from the earth and it watered the entire surface of the ground. (Gen. 2:5, 6, NW) So the dew that the snowy top of Mount Hermon induced to fall upon the sacred mountains of Zion was like that refreshing, life-sustaining moisture, to keep things green, attractive.—Judg. 6:36-40.
39. How is our dwelling in unity like such dew, and why does it descend upon us from above?
39 As with typical Zion in Palestine, so with the antitypical Zion, God’s kingdom. Because God has commanded that there, in the Kingdom, should lie the blessing for us, even life for evermore, he caused the typical Zion of old to be bathed daily with dew during the hot, wilting season, as a prophetic picture. Our dwelling as brothers in amiable unity is like that abundant dew, refreshing amid the persecutive heat of this world and conducing to our life for evermore in God’s new world. It is because our dwelling thus wins the favor of our reigning King Jesus Christ: “The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.” (Prov. 19:12) To this restored spiritual Israel Jehovah God has promised: “I will be as the dew unto Israel”; and he causes his word to trickle down upon them like dew for their unfailing refreshment.—Hos. 14:4, 5, AS; Deut. 32:2, NW.
40. To be like what among the people of good will must we have this refreshment, and what is all-essential in this behalf?
40 By forsaking the gathering of ourselves together and by failing to keep in unity as a New World society we should deprive ourselves of this life-sustaining dew. Can we afford to be without such sorely needed refreshment amid this hostile old world? No! We need it to be always fresh for our foretold work among the people of good will; as it is written: “The remnant of Jacob [spiritual Israel] shall be in the midst of many peoples as dew from Jehovah, as showers upon the grass; that tarry not for man, nor wait for the sons of men.” (Mic. 5:7, AS) We shall not be suited to be like dew to the parched people unless we ourselves have this spiritual refreshment first. Our keeping unified as a New World society will supply it to us, keeping us cool and calm and pleasant for God as well as his own people to look at. The all-essential thing to our keeping thus united is that fruitage of the divine spirit, love. It is a love, not merely in word and with the tongue, but in deed and truth, for true love is practical.
At the Earhart Plant Research Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., U.S.A.—See the New York Times, page E 11, May 17, 1953.